Noncommutative Analysis

Tag: teaching

A review of my book A First Course in Functional Analysis

A review for my book A First Course in Functional Analysis appeared in Zentralblatt Math – here is a link to the review. I am quite thankful that someone has read my book and bothered to write a review, and that zBMath publishes reviews. That’s all great. Now I have a few words to say about it. This is an opportunity for me to bring up the subject of my book and highlight some things worth highlighting.

I am not too happy about this review. It is not that it is a negative review – actually it has a rather kind air to it. However, I am somewhat disappointed in the information that the review contains, and I am not sure that it does the reader some service which the potential readers could not achieve by simply reading the table of contents and the preface to the book (it is easy to look inside the book in the Amazon page; of course, it is also easy to find a copy of the book online).

The reviewer correctly notices that one key feature of the book is the treatment of L^2[a,b] as a completion of C([a,b]), and that this is used for applications in analysis. However, I would love it if a reviewer would point out to the fact that, although the idea of thinking about L^2[a,b] as a completion space is not new, few (if any) have attempted to actually walk the extra mile and work with L^2 in this way (i.e., without requiring measure theory) all the way up to rigorous and significant applications in analysis. Moreover, it would be nice if my attempt was compared to other such attempts (if they exist), and I would like to hear opinions about whether my take is successful.

I am grateful that the reviewer reports on the extensive exercises (this is indeed, in my opinion, one of the pluses of new books in general and my book in particular), but there are a couple of other innovations that are certainly worth remarking on, and I hope that the next reviewer does not miss them. For example, is it a good idea to include a chapter on Hilbert function spaces in an introductory text to FA? (a colleague of mine told me that he would keep that out). Another example: I think that my chapter on applications of compact operators is quite special. This chapter has two halves: one on integral equations and one on functional equations. Now, the subject of integral equations is well trodden and takes a central place in some introductions to FA, and one might wonder whether anything new can be done here in terms of the organization and presentation of the material. So, I think it is worth remarking about whether or not my exposition has anything to add. The half on applications of compact operators to functional equations contains some beautiful and highly non-trivial material that has never appeared in a book before, not to mention that functional equations of any kind are rarely considered in introductions to FA; this may also be worth a comment.

Functional analysis – a preface to the introduction

I am planning to write a post that will be an introduction to the course “Advanced Analysis”, which I shall be teaching in the fall term. The introduction is to comprise two main themes: motivation and history. I was a little surprised to find out – as I was preparing the introduction – that, looking from the eyes of a student, the history of subject provided little motivation. I also began to oscillate between two opposite (and equally silly) viewpoints. The first viewpoint is that functional analysis is a big and respectable field of mathematics, which needs no introduction; let us start with the subject matter immediately since there is so much to learn. The second viewpoint is that there is absolutely no point in studying (or teaching) a mathematical theory without understanding its context and roots, or without knowing how it applies to problems outside of the theory’s borders. Pondering these, I found that I had some things to say before the introduction, which may justify the introduction or give it the place I intend.

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Course announcement : Advanced Analysis, 20125401

In the first term of the 2012/2013, I will be giving the course “Advanced Analysis” here at BGU. This is the department’s core functional analysis course for graduate students, though ambitious undergraduate students are also encouraged to take this course, and some of them indeed do. The price to pay is that we do not assume that the students know any functional analysis, and the only formal requisites are a course  in complex variables and a course in (point set) topology, as well as a course in measure theory which can be taken concurrently. The price to pay for having no requisites in functional analysis, while still aiming at graduate level course, is that the course is huge: we have five hours of lectures a week. In practice we will actually have six hours of lectures a week, because I will go abroad in the middle of the semester to this conference and workshop in Bangalore. The official syllabus of the course is as follows:

Banach spaces and Hilbert spaces. Basic properties of Hilbert spaces. Topological vector spaces. Banach-Steinhaus theorem; open mapping theorem and closed graph theorem. Hahn-Banach theorem. Duality. Measures on locally compact spaces; the dual of C(X). Weak and weak-* topologies; Banach-Alaoglu theorem. Convexity and the Krein-Milman theorem. The Stone-Weierstrass theorem. Banach algebras. Spectrum of a Banach algebra element. Gelfand theory of commutative Banach algebras. The spectral theorem for normal operators (in the continuous functional calculus form).

I plan to cover all these topics (with all that is implicitly implied), but I will probably give the whole course a little bend towards my own area of expertise, especially in the exercises and examples. We do have to wait and see who the students are and what their background is before deciding precisely how to proceed. Some notes for the course will appear (in the English language) on this blog. The official course webpage (which is in Hebrew) is behind this link.